EXETER — A proposed $17.8 million addition to the Cooperative Middle School narrowly crossed the threshold needed for a bond article to pass with a 60.69 percent vote in favor.
The proposal passed Tuesday by a vote of 3,260 in favor and 2,112 opposed.
It was the third year in a row that a building expansion for the middle school in Stratham went before voters. In 2018, the proposal garnered a majority vote in five of the six towns which equated to 54.12 percent in favor, while in 2017, it received 52 percent support.
A building committee returned this year with a scaled-down version of the original plan, coming in at $17.8 million, down from last year’s $23 million proposal.
SAU 16 Superintendent David Ryan was thrilled with the results.
“It’s sweet for everybody in the community who voted to support this project. People who believed in what the project was going to do for kids,” said Ryan.
The addition also received a majority vote in Exeter, Stratham, Kensington and Newfields, and failed in East Kingston and Brentwood. The project did not need 60 percent in each town to pass, but a 60 percent cumulative approval.
Voters in Exeter approved the plan by a vote of 1,496 to 765, Stratham by a vote of 746 to 274, Kensington by a vote of 289 to 191 and Newfields by 252 to 185. Brentwood rejected the plan by a vote of 294 yes to 502 no, while East Kingston had a narrower margin with 183 yes to 195 no.
The superintendent attributed hard work by a volunteer building committee and good weather on election day with helping get out the vote this time around.
“I think that the weather played a large part,” Ryan said. “I think that our friends who were unable to attend the last few years because of the weather were delighted to come out in the sunshine and cast their votes.”
In advocating for the addition, school officials cited the need for more classroom space and an undersized cafeteria that requires the school to start lunch at 10 a.m. to fit all of the school’s students.
The addition will add 10 more classrooms, expand the cafeteria, add a multi-purpose room with storage, a second elevator, and create offices in a former tech ed space, currently being used for alt PE. It would get all teachers and students out of makeshift offices and instructional spaces in closets.